Smoking!

Oh my God, clutch your pearls & grab your pitchforks she smokes

(must be a disgusting, dreadful person!)

“They’re like, really bad for you, you know?”

Thank-you, Sarah: thank-you for holier-than-thou opinions & self-important, excessive

blinking in Grade 11 European History, as your petite gold crucifix catches the lip of heavily-knit, boatneck sweater in royal blue, I did not know that; I just did not know.

I used to be a Smoker —

Preference for Marlborough Reds imported from the Americas, $10 flat, no questions asked at The Grab & Go. Wallah told us to wait for a lull before approaching the counter, fiery-eyed, eager to trade an hour and a half of scrubbing greasy pans & a two hour-long bi-pedular trek across town for a nicotine nuzzle. After-toke smokes were the highest ecstasy for virginal teenage girls, shrouded by scents of hay & skunk, straw & camel-dung, some nondescript mechanically floral body spray, standing in a circle under a streetlight, savouring ourselves, savouring each other, as the dew formed around us.

I used to be a Smoker —

Opening cellophane slowly, lovingly, peeling rind off toxic fruit in thin, transparent strips, balling it up & tucking it back, tinfoil on, always on, keeping it fresh. Smoking pairs well with confessions outside pubs in closed alcoves, tucked away, avoiding foot traffic after oysters & flank steak, after collard greens. Smoking pairs best with bowls of red wine & blank notepads, dreaming in hues of dry Rioja.  

I used to be a Smoker —

Easing the soul-crush of a summertime job downtown, pushing papers for the government, walking uphill into sun every day, The Killers’ All These Things That I’ve Done an anthem for Julys & Augusts.   

Sixty minutes divided by three breaks the banality of an 8-hour day, removing relentless paperclips, where companies like Moosedick Incorporated demand things of me.

Seven years bartending through undergrad, satisfyingly selfish smoking moment after working ten-hour shifts slinging pitchers of beer, sticky cocktails, greasy fried fare slathered in sauce, catering to the inane questions/requests of the general public, cleaning over and over… that post-work cigarette becoming a bedtime story, a balm for benumbed feet and legs, prefacing a dreamless sleep all while I barely had time to shed my little black dress like a snakeskin before succumbing to it.

I celebrated one New Years with a bottle of sparkling in the bathtub, smoking out the window in lonesome wee morning hours after working the deep shift, welcoming 2011 with cash & smoke & bubbles.  

I used to be a Smoker —

Out the window of my one-bedroom Danforth apartment: the first and only one-bedroom apartment. 

Third-floor walk-up above wood-burning pizza & waffle-coned ice cream parlour: so warm inside my apartment; towels unnecessary as a cool shower dried from my shoulders within minutes, water beads libation for some unforeseen thirsty creature living in the walls.  

Once, my tears served as late-evening offering as I sat on my couch and smoked out my window, blue coils mingling with sounds of records from a lost artist’s golden years, trying through sobs to articulate how humbled I was to have witnessed such creative integrity, as my partner looked on. Our son was conceived that night.

I used to be a Smoker —

All flooding back, muddily, as I notice the smooshed cigarette butt eking out from the slush of the corner of the second last step. 

Mmmm, disgusting.


Meghan Sutherland is a poet and writer. Meghan has a blog brimming with essays, and has most recently been published on https://rejection-letters.com/ for her poem, “The Mustard Queen.” You can find her talking mostly to herself about books and music on Twitter @MegsDregs.

Categories: Poetry

Daily Drunk

Shawn Berman runs The Daily Drunk. You can follow him on Twitter @Sbb_writer.

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